Jack Kerouac: Beat Prophet

“Vesuvio”  |  (San Francisco, CA)  |  Anthony Satori

Some people say that Jack Kerouac wasted his life.  At some level, perhaps this is true.  I certainly wish that he had lived longer.  I certainly wish that he had achieved more balance in his life while he was here.  I certainly wish that he had found more sustained happiness, experienced more enduring love, enjoyed a more consistent flow of success.  And I cannot help but wish that something or someone might have somehow kept him from drowning in depression and alcoholism toward the end.  

All of that being said, I still believe that it is a vast injustice to say that Kerouac wasted his life.  Because, for me, there is an immense redemption to be found:  it is in his words, in his books, in the substance of his work.  He was a writer, an artist, a poet.  He was given a gift by the universe, and he used it.  He had a true talent and he immersed himself in it.  He had a spark of magic inside of him and he spent every day of his life striving to share this light with the world.  This, in my opinion, is enough.  This, in my opinion, is the opposite of a wasted life.

The image above depicts a bar in San Francisco called Vesuvio, one of the favorite watering holes for the Beat Poets in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Vesuvio is right next door to the famous City Lights Bookstore, owned and run by the great poet/publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  City Lights Bookstore was the location of numerous live readings by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and other members of the Beat Generation, and after these readings they would often walk across the alley and have a drink (or two) at Vesuvio.  If you look closely enough at the picture above, you can see the reflection of City Lights Bookstore in the window.  And if you go inside and listen closely enough, you can still feel the spirit of Jack Kerouac spinning tales of joy, kicks and beatific mad love for life.

So, in the words of the Beat Prophet himself, “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”